Alabat | Alabat Island, Quezon Province
Somewhat charming. Somewhat quiet. Somewhat secret. This is Alabat Island, a small town in Quezon Province that basks on gentle landscapes & dwelled by genteel people. It is rustic & old-world, seemingly riddled with anonymity.
But it is in its wonderful invisibility to the wingding of tourism that keeps this island quaint, peaceful & pristine.
I used to drive regularly between Bicol & Manila in the early 2010s. And along this lengthy journey I would stop by Gumaca or Atimonan for lunch or coffee by the sea. Before I get back on the wheel, I would always sit on the breakwater over a puff gazing at Alabat Island across.
I always wondered what could there be & what life is like in that long island? Back then, there were no blogs about it yet. Even today, there aren’t much travel stories around except for a few about beaches & old houses.
Alabat Island is composed of 3 towns: Alabat, Quezon & Perez. It is fringed by the Pacific Ocean on the east while Lamon Bay hems it from the north down to its western & southern coasts. Each town has its own wharf & is serviced by ferries & chartered bancas from the mainland.
No more ifs & buts, Alabat Island it is!
Finally after 8 years of delaying this trip, my friend Nena whose mother’s family hail from Alabat dragged me down the island — no ifs & buts. And I couldn’t be more thankful in giving in because this place is truly a storyteller piece.
If you have fascination for heritage homes, then this is your Disneyland in sepia. The town is beautifully littered with blocks after blocks of old houses that scream of 1900s nostalgia. Unlike others, this architectural tableau is not a tourism showpiece but actual living homes.
As the town is small, most people here either walk or ride a bike to move around. There are only a few motorized vehicles & are only used for utilitarian purpose. Wonderfully, this creates a community living on less air & noise pollutions. How cool is that?
I have never biked in a long time & along with my newfound friends, we roamed around town the old-school way. I noticed how they put so much value in keeping everything in order. Houses & low-rise buildings are laid-out in a neat grid revolving around the church & the small plaza.
Sweet Farm Tourism
Alabat Island thrives mostly on land-based agriculture where they grow rice, coconuts, calamansi & cacao. And what better way to diversify these bounties than creating sweet & organic farm tourism that is unique to this side of Quezon.
Alabat is home to Carlito Villamayor, a presidential awardee for best coconut farming in 2016. In his 5-hectare land, you’ll be toured around a maze of Laguna Tall coconuts & a demonstration on how coco sugar is made. And if you like to experience climbing coconuts on a web of bamboo scaffoldings, that fancy might be an exciting reality here.
One of the tours I was looking forward to was the one at Villa Marcelina Raat Cacao Farm. Alright, I was actually anticipating the hot chocolate drink at the end of the tour. Well why not when they serve thick & pure “tsokolate-eh”. And oh, never miss their buko pancake, because it’s a wicked pancake to end all pancakes in the world.
Okay, I thought I already had enough of sweetness from the coco sugar & cacao farm tours. But then there’s still a bee farm. And with bees around come honey. This small farm is a cutesy honeycomb of stingless bees surrounded by local blooms & a canopy of native trees.
Alabat Island is never what it is without calamansi, the product that first brought its town to a zesty fame. If it isn’t much of a brag, they are one of the biggest producers & suppliers to the biggest fastfood chains & markets in the country.
Some Beachy Goodness
Alright, alright. I know you are looking for the beach! Yes, what’s Alabat Island for without a beach? Villa Norte is the popular one in town but requires a bit of travel. It’s a cream sand beach with quite a good swell. But if you don’t want to go far, the port has a public swimming area. Surprisingly, it’s as clean as you can imagine.
A vast marine sanctuary for fish & giant clams fringes Alabat Island. Guests can go on a picnic aboard a bamboo raft in the middle of Lamon Bay. You can snorkel around it or chill out over hearty lunch. On your way back, you can cruise along its lush mangrove forest.
Philippines, learn from Alabat Island
If there’s one more thing I love about Alabat is its cleanliness. The entire town is spotless because everyone cleans up. You’ll hardly find trash anywhere here. There are no stray animals. No gambling. No drinking on the streets.
There are a few good cafes in town but absolutely no drinking bars. At sunset, people gather at the port area over halo-halo. Then the island retires at around 10PM. And don’t ever think of belting out from a videoke because here having peaceful nights are a way of life.
Alabat is not hungry for tourists. They’d rather have a few who will respect their quiet life & pristine environment than having massive visitors but will disturb their tranquility.
I am happy to see places that evoke a restful island getaway & where responsible tourism is on top of everything. If this is your kind of fun, give Alabat Island a spot on your travel bucketlist too.